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Lessons from the Natural History of Nations

04 Sep 2018 at 07:39hrs | Views
There is certainly no prize for predicting the reaction of the opposition alliance to the outcome of the elections, and of course the constitutional court challenge. After all, we have been made to believe elections will only be free and fair when the opposing side wins. Wilbert Mukori has absolutely done enough justice to the incidence of the opposition's behaviour of sheepishly going into elections in full glare of conditions that do not favour the holding of free and fair elections. Them only crying foul after the fact, with the ruling party in glee of legitimacy.

The lessons of the 2013 elections were important in so many ways, one being that of a costly miscalculation to believe that the sheer numbers would overwhelm any rigging machinery that would have been in place. There is little or no evidence to date that the ruling party even employed any rigging mechanism. This is despite the fact that the GNU had carried all and sundry along enough distance to see the inside workings of government. Biti even went further to admit that "just maybe we were too elitist with our JUICE manifesto whilst Zanu PF went to town with bhora mugedhe."

Whilst the strength of the opposition agenda in Zimbabwe cannot be denied, it is such shortcomings that deal a heavy blow to their chances on the ballot, with the worst part of it all being that what the opposition complains about just hours after every 5-year election has remained the same. Nobody takes you seriously when all you say is that only in the constituencies where you won were the elections free, fair and reflected the will of the people whilst rejecting those lost.

Despite its deficiencies as alluded above, without which it would have staged a coup de tat on the natural history of nations, the opposition as a body politic has grown, its game matured and its agenda penetrating. Chamisa was spot on when he talked of generational consensus in Zimbabwe and I will unpack a few important questions surrounding this issue.

Generational consensus presupposes a smooth transfer of ideas, aspirations and hope for the future from one generation to the other especially those that grew up under stark different circumstances. The youth of the liberation struggle era hold strong views of the world around them, they do not want to be rushed. Their pace takes its time, bullet trains are too far away from them, not for them even.

Transfer is suspicious if done the other way round, it must be from the top, from the earlier, from the former, the has–been, the yesterday to the now. This has been the greatest undoing of the whole idea in Zimbabwe today. There is nothing wrong with a young man leading the country, all what is needed is that he must know what he is doing and the majority must believe it. Since the formation of the opposition it had been on a collision course with the veterans of the liberation war. These men and women still hold sway on the politics of the day especially with the rural communities where the brunt of the war was felt to the bone. These communities account for between 60-67 percent of the population, roughly votes in simple proportion. It is not that they are not prepared to vote for an opposition candidate (remember 2008), but just that the message must be right. The political game in Zimbabwe is going beyond political formations, it is such change in times that the opposition must learn from. ED got less votes than most candidates in the party constituencies and this reflects how strong individual sway was in the past elections. Blackman won in Kwekwe on the back of a relatively new formation, Mliswa sent shockwaves as an independent. What then is the order?

While it is true that the people have suffered for long under the stewardship of the ruling party in general, yet you find there are still millions who believe in the ruling party. Robespierre in old France was a monster to history scholars and yet during those times he had millions who actually thought he was doing the right thing. Pol Pot of Cambodia forced hundreds of thousands of people from towns to the country within 72 hours! Yet if you go back in history there are thousands even who believed in what he was doing and supported it. Why was this so? He addressed something bigger.

Generational consensus will not only be about proffering solutions and giving people across generations hope, but about relieving their fears too. The question of land reform security, liberation war heritage, the legitimacy of government, corruption in the corridors of power, a home grown working economy for the people and by the people etc. Governance will evolve naturally especially in the former colonies from the liberation generation to the other. The fact of greediness is there, corruption everywhere, entitlement being the mother of all sorts. From the war they started eating - we allowed as we thought they deserved to eat - soon they could not do without the eating – then the eating never stopped - we all complained – we invented the word corruption – we told them they are criminals – they felt insecure – they decided to stay there – it is suicidal to go – it does make sense right?

The mistake that has always been repeated in many of the nations is that the transfer hinged on generational consensus has always been attempted on rapid terms. It has to be negotiated - not in boardroom venues, but in the daily national discourse on major issues that affect the country. Biologically, one generation passes leaving heritage in the hands of the other. Politically too, formations will change office due to their success in representing national aspirations and allaying fears of all. Change is inevitable, it is coming, but will not be on rapid terms. It is against the grain.
The future will find the MDC Alliance well, they have come of age and picked up important lessons, some in the hardest of ways, along the way. Some tests will be passed after so many examinations, some brilliant ideas of the ruling party will fail at some point - it is the natural history of nations.

Robert Sigauke is a Legal Professional, Author and Political Commentator. He writes from Cape Town. WhatsApp +27 71 334 8876, email

Source - Robert Sigauke, Political Analyst, Cape Town
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